April 1, 2011

CONTACT: Jack Savage,(603)224-9945; cell (603) 724-5362;


For Immediate Release


Pellet stove owners will soon be able to grow their own pellets

 Concord, NH, April 1—The Society for the Protection of NH Forests announced today the successful development of a pellet bush that will allow homeowners to grow their own pellets for use in popular pellet stove devices.

 “Many NH residents have turned to pellet stoves to heat their homes,” said Jack Savage, VP of Communications at the Forest Society. “They appreciate the renewable energy source, as well as the convenience of handling pellets instead of heavy firewood for a woodstove. However, many would also rather not buy pellets by the bag from their local woodstove shop or hardware store, but make them from their own land.”

To that end, the Forest Society announced today that after careful grafting and experimental cultivation, they have developed the world's first 'pellet bush'.

“This remarkable plant makes it possible for homeowners to grow and harvest their own wood pellets right in their backyards,” Savage said.

The plant is a cross between a coffee plant and a beech tree—the combination of the coffee bean and a beech nut have the right density and size to run through the augers of the pellet stoves that are out on the market now.

“At this point the harvesting is pretty primitive,” Savage said. “Basically you put a tarp on the ground under the bush and then shake the bush and let the pellets fall on to the tarp.”

Eventually they hope to develop a tarp that doubles as a plastic bag, so that the pellets can be ‘zipped up’ into the bag immediately after harvesting.

“The typical coffee plant grows to 25-30 feet, so harvesting works best if you prune the plant once before it flowers,” Savage said. “Sort of like shearing a Christmas tree on a Christmas tree farm.”

The Pellet Project has been kept quiet by the Forest Society as they developed the right bush and growing conditions.

“We have an active forest management program--and we work on a few research projects that are usually pretty hush-hush until we are ready to announce them,” Savage said. A few years ago the Society revealed the development of square trees that are far more efficient to grow, transport and saw into lumber at the mill.

There are still issues to be resolved with the pellet bushes, and Savage says they are expecting a less-than-friendly reception from the existing pellet industry, but innovation is often accompanied by a little controversy.

The pellet bush doesn’t propagate on its own at this point, Savage said, so one must buy grafted seedlings. The pellet isn’t a traditional seed—you can’t plant it and grow a new pellet bush.

Pellets grow with a husk, and burn the best with the husk off and the pellet dried. The Society is still working on developing a kind of threshing machine to take the husks off.

“Ideally it would be solar powered so the whole project is renewable from an energy standpoint,” Savage said. “We’re also not sure about the soil impact--how growing these bushes affects the nutrients in the soil. What were hoping is that spreading the ash from the burned pellets will return all the necessary nutrients to the soil.”

Growing enough pellets does take a bit of land. Based on the experimental growth, it takes at least an acre to grow a ton of pellets. That’s the equivalent of one pallet load, or 50 40-pound bags. So depending on one’s usage, it would take up to four or five acres to get through a NH winter.

“But, we're also working on grafting in a sugar maple strand, which we expect will give the pellets a pleasant maple syrup fragrance when they're burned,” Savage said. “It will be like having pancakes all day long.”

Developing the pellet bush has been a fun project for the staff, Savage said. “We like to have fun here at the Forest Society, especially this time of year.”

The seedlings are expected to be available for purchase by April 1, 2012.

 The Forest Society is a private, non-profit membership organization established in 1901 to perpetuate the forests of New Hampshire through their wise use and complete reservation in places of special scenic beauty.